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PYAA navigating its restart in the pandemic carefully

Sporting activities are slowly starting to resume in Mississippi as Gov. Tate Reeves lifts restrictions and the Picayune Youth Athletic Association is one such organization that has returned to the fields.

The organization’s softball and baseball teams resumed practices May 11 because the limit on outdoor gatherings had been increased to 20 people, allowing teams to gather on the fields to practice.

There have been a couple changes made to stay within safety guidelines so the athletes are in a safe environment when they practice.

A specific age group practices each weeknight with each team getting their own field to practice on in order to prevent crowding.

If parents want to watch their child practice they must stay outside the fence line and maintain social distancing.

The last change is that the coaches are prohibited from using the dugout or having players rest there.

Ronnie Reynolds runs the baseball portion of the PYAA and he said his teams are hoping, if restrictions let them, to start playing games May 26 after Memorial Day.

The plan is to have a four-week schedule to try and get some games in before shutting down in July so that it doesn’t interfere with the football portion of the PYAA.

Jeremy Guidry is in charge of PYAA softball and his teams won’t start their four-week season until June 1, which is the same date the Mississippi High School Activities Association is set to allow public schools to resume athletic activities.

Both sides of the organization have had overwhelmingly positive responses from both parents and athletes to the resumption of play.

“We’ve had a good, positive response. It’s been great. We’ve only had a couple age groups that have had to combine a couple teams, but it hasn’t been that drastic. Most of the parents just want to see their kids play,” Reynolds said.

The combining of teams was a possibility when play restarted because it was assumed certain parents wouldn’t be comfortable having their child return to public activities at this point in time.

However, turnout has been similar to what it was pre-pandemic for both softball and baseball, and the facilities available at Friendship Park make it easy for the teams to stay within health guidelines.

Scheduling hasn’t been an issue for the organization with the teams able to reserve fields at Friendship Park to use for practices, and in the future games.

The process has made it easy for coaches and players to get back on the field and play the game they love in a safe way.

“We haven’t had any issues. The scheduling has been perfect with one age group one night because we’re using every field possible to space them out. Everyone has cooperated and been extra nice,” Reynolds said.

There’s still some uncertainty as to when other restrictions will be lifted, but Guidry said the best the organization can do is move forward intelligently and try to get games going again.

“We just have to do the best we can, and hodgepodge and duct tape things together” Guidry said.